They say that age isn’t a number, but an attitude. If that’s the case, then Elaine Beiersdoerfer knows how to age well. At 72, and a grandmother of seven, this blue belt may be better known as the Jiu-Jitsu Grandma.
Elaine started jiu jitsu at the age of 69. She is just shy of five feet tall and weighs in at 110 lbs. So whether you are in your forties or twenties, Elaine’s experience on the mats proves beneficial to all.
Have you always been active in sports?
I’ve never competed in any sport until Jiu-Jitsu.
When my husband was in graduate school, someone was offering a six week judo course and it sounded interesting, so I went with a friend. I loved it, but no one taught it when we moved back to Birmingham, so I just forgot about it.
When I was 69, I found out that a gym near me was teaching judo. I called and asked if they let “old people“ take the class. They said yes, so that’s how I started.
My judo instructor taught both judo and jiu-jitsu. He encouraged me to try jiu jitsu and the rest is history. I still take judo when I can fit it in.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
I’m not too old and it’s not too late!
How do you prepare for competitions?
I don’t overthink it, and I don’t worry. Worrying won’t change the outcome.
I stay in the gym as much as possible and work with my professors. I also review tapes that I’ve made of drills in class.
Do you have any advice for mature women in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
I’m probably not great at pacing myself. I tend to bite off more than I can chew, so to speak.
I usually start the week planning on going to four or five classes, but by mid week, I’m exhausted and I just push through the next class or two. I’ll usually go even if I feel I’m too tired, but I’m never sorry I made the effort.
So don’t give up, but pace yourself.
About the author: Mindi is a purple belt under Headnod HQ in Granite City, Illinois under Josh and Steve McKinney. She is affiliated with TAC Team BJJ. When Mindi isn’t on the mats, she is writing, working in women’s ministry, or across seas as a volunteer missionary. Instagram: @fomindi82
Elaine’s story inspires me! I started at the age of 62 and I’m 64 now. Everyone else at my gym is in their 20s or 30s. It took some time to get them. to stop treating me like a china doll. I knew I was truly accepted when the rolls started getting harder.
We are going to start a new class for over 40yr this fall. Any advice about curriculum are welcome. The idea of making tapes of each participants execution sounds good. I started jiu-jitsu 3 year ago at 68.